In the news recently, a bunch of people protesting and campaigning for the #blacklivesmatter campaign here in the UK have been pulling stunts to get attention.Specifically, lying in the streets to obstruct traffic, and generally cause a disturbance. A lot of people have been arrested as a result, and the traffic around Heathrow has started flowing nicely again.
That’s the short story, the long story, as I covered with my blog on the BLM movement in America, is much more complex. As I said with that post, the idea that black lives some how matter less to police than other lives is obviously not the case. I did address both the deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling in a post too, where as tragic and unnecessary as those deaths were – it doesn’t mean what everyone think it means. Police Brutality is a problem that affects all people, and as I discussed in those blogs, its not just black people being unlawfully killed by the authorities. A lot of white people have been killed and not just by white cops either. This isn’t a race issue, although the media and the BLM campaign will have you think it is.
The same goes for here in the UK where the BLM movement is trying to pick up speed. Supporters of the movement argue it needs to happen, and in one BBC article, Dr Tony Sewell from the Youth Justice Board claims we need BLM because 21% of young men under 18 in custody were black though black people only make up 4% of the UK population. Conversely, 62% of young men under 18 in custody are white, whilst they are 80% of the UK population. He claims “this is a scandal” and needs to be looked at.
I disagree, disproportional crime rates don’t necessarily tell you anything about the state of society. Statistics are very thin and one dimensional. They tell you exactly what the statistic shows and nothing else, people are free to interpret the statistic in whatever way they want. Whereas some may see the disproportional black crime rate as evidence for black people being treated unfairly, you could just as easily argue that its evidence that black people commit a disproportionate amount of crime. Both of these ideas fit what the statistic is telling you.
These statistics that Sewell has thrown around to add weight to his argument are essentially thin air if you take even half a second to look at them. I’m not even close to saying that there aren’t ever cases where black people are treated unfairly, brutalised by police or even arrested when they haven’t done anything wrong. These things definitely do happen, but they also happen to white people. We don’t have any real statistics on whether this happens to white people more or less proportionately to black people – and such statistics would be really hard to gather. We do have news stories of events like Mark Duggan’s murder, but as I showed with the US version of this blog post, dig hard enough and you’ll find stories of whites and other races being killed too.
The UK doesn’t need BlackLivesMatter, nobody does. What we need is better control and training for our police so that tragic events don’t ever have to happen again. We need honesty from the media and transparency from our authorities. We need to trust them again, and right now it isn’t getting any easier to do that.